Newsletter No 150 of 12 August 2023

Action Alliance against Housing Shortage and Urban Degradation, Newsletter 150

“We carry GAG’s social responsibility to the grave”.
Rally and demo on the occasion of the GAG annual general meeting
on August 18, 2023, 8:30 a.m., Straße des 17. Juni 4.

On July 21, 2023, Thomas Münch criticized in the Stadt-Anzeiger: “Because of the interests of a few small shareholders, the city is giving GAG out of hand instead of making it an instrument of social housing.”
Before the then virtual general meeting, Helmut Frangenberg wrote in the Stadt-Anzeiger on 29.9.2021 about the background:
GAG Immobilien AG is Cologne’s largest landlord and manages around 45,000 apartments. The first “G” in the abbreviation still stood for “non-profit” decades after its founding in 1913. When non-profit status in the housing sector was abolished in 1990 under the Kohl government, GAG deleted the word from its name. Nevertheless, it remained committed to the common good.
GAG is a stock corporation. Almost 90 percent of the shares are owned by the city, with a small portion owned by a foundation. Only 3.2 percent of the shares are owned by small shareholders. The structure forces the company to pay attention to returns. There are repeated discussions about whether this needs to be changed in order to make GAG a more effective instrument of urban development policy.
The small shareholders would have to be compensated to make GAG a wholly owned subsidiary of the city or the municipal utility, similar to other municipal companies. “It’s a question of whether it’s worth the effort to convert,” Ott says at the end of his work on the supervisory board. A lot of money would have to be spent to compensate the small shareholders, money that could be spent more effectively elsewhere.
Shareholders have a right to expect that their company, which they co-own as shareholders, will always aim for profits. So it is not only a company committed to the welfare of the city that finds itself in a dilemma, because it must not make a loss on any business, no matter how important it might be for urban development. This is also a conflict for the supervisory board members appointed by the city council: According to stock corporation law, they are first and foremost obligated to the welfare of the company.
Social scientist Thomas Münch cannot see that the city council is doing anything to counter the housing shortage. A current example for him is the helplessness with which the city-owned housing company GAG reacts to rent increases. The housing shortage increases the pressure on the homeless who live on the streets. The homeless are the biggest loser of Cologne’s housing policy. With Housing First there is a way out of this misery, but there are not enough funds for it. The Vringstreff could hand over so far only 15 homeless ones thereby lease and apartment key. Thomas Münch criticizes the hesitancy with which the city meets the vacancy in view of the plight of the homeless. Its conclusion: “The city must take finally times money into the hand and create its own housing company with the goal of building exclusively social dwellings. Housing for disadvantaged groups of the population must no longer be left to the free market.”

Press release OMZ e.V.:

“Eviction of homeless camp at AZ Cologne averted -.
Demand for humane accommodation

We are happy that the eviction of the former residents of Gummersbacher Straße camped on the meadow next to the AZ, which was threatened for yesterday noon, was not carried out.
We sincerely thank the participants of yesterday’s rally and the people from civil society, AZ, politics and administration for their active support in averting the renewed eviction of the homeless.
It would have been the fifth time: First they had to give way in 2020 from the house in the market street, on 31.05.2023 they were then put by the city from the temporary domicile in the Gummersbacher street on the street, on 01.06. by the public order office from the peace park scared away and on 02.06. from the Ulrepforte.
“So one cannot deal nevertheless with humans”, criticizes the again-elected chairman of the OMZ registered association, Tom Küven.
The replacement accommodations offered by the city did not correspond to humane minimum standards and promises for municipally held accommodations were revoked without reason.
Social department Rau explained in addition Monday evening that for the alleged “OMZ Nachfolgeprojekt” in Merheim already 11 promises took place – to its own surprise turned out however that not a single person from the former OMZ in the Gummersbacher road is under it.
When asked several times whether at least the remaining three to four places there could not be occupied by former residents* of Gummersbacher Straße, he said nothing, just as he did not respond to questions about where he intended to accommodate the remaining people who have been camping on the meadow next to the AZ for almost three months now. “These people deserve a fair trial and a second chance,” Spike, the new deputy chairman of the association, also demanded.
The affected people had not yet digested this blow when the eviction notice was handed to them yesterday at noon.
Even if this renewed expulsion could be successfully averted it is clear that this camp for the concerning does not represent more than the smallest evil – from humane can be also here no speech.

We call on the administration to finally fulfill its responsibility and provide sustainable humane solutions to accommodate these people!”

Media echo
WDR local time Cologne on 09.08.2023 starting from minute 7:50
Cologne Review 10.08.2023
City of Cologne waives eviction of homeless camp
Cologne City Gazette, 08/10/2023
Former OMZ residents
Threatened eviction of homeless tent camp in Cologne stopped for the time being
Report-k, 08/09/2023
Rally against eviction of homeless tents
young world 11.08.2023
Only with pressure from below is homelessness solvable”.
Protest in Cologne could prevent planned eviction of housing and work project. A conversation with Akiko Ahrendt

Broadcasts, messages, news

Answer of the federal state government to the small question 1956 of 13 June 2023 of the delegate Sebastian Watermeier SPD
Printed matter 18/4681
Tenant protection in North Rhine-Westphalia – tenants and municipalities are left alone!
Substitute imprisonment in Berlin: More jail for poor people
In Berlin, more and more people are serving substitute prison sentences. The Freedom Fund initiative complains about disproportionality and fears rising numbers.!5949349/
Wooden houses for homeless in Cologne? – Citizen asks – City administration answers
Incentive program for housing construction: Only the housing industry rejoices
Construction Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD) wants to boost housing construction with tax incentives. Reactions to her initiative are mixed.!5952423&s=Jasmin+Kalarickal/
Economist on Geywitz’s housing push: “I don’t expect much from it”
Matthias Günther of the Eduard Pestel Institute says more write-offs for new housing construction aren’t enough. He has other ideas.!5952432&s=Jasmin+Kalarickal/
Real estate giant Vonovia makes billion-dollar loss
Further write-downs of its properties are costing the Vonovia housing group a billion-dollar loss. The group wants to sell thousands of apartments to gain financial leeway.
How Construction Minister Geywitz wants to boost housing construction
Homelessness in Germany: Significantly more homeless people housed in shelters
Street worker Petra Hastenteufel interviewed about homeless people in Cologne
In Unidad Popular Chile: “A dignified home”
Salvador Allende launched the most ambitious public housing program in Chile’s history
Immovielien demands
Is anyone allowed to just put their apartment on Airbnb?
Housing shortage: Two percent without a place to live in London – soon also in Germany?

Hungary: Homeless people are turned into criminals

Aug. 12, 2023, 10:45 a.m. Strengthen disadvantaged neighborhoods – Die Linke helps fight abuses in ZBVV-managed houses in Chorweiler, S Bahn exit Liverpooler Platz
Aug. 15, 2023, 7 p.m., The City and its Homeless. House of Architecture. Josef-Haubrich-Hof 2
17.08.2023, 15:30 Social Committee
08/18/2023, 8:30 a.m., Rally and demo “We carry GAG’s social responsibility to the grave” on the occasion of the GAG Annual General Meeting, Straße des 17. Juni 4.
08/27/2023, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Summer party at Petershof, Lövenicher Weg 9-11, Müngersdorf
07.09.2023, 15:30 Council of the City of Cologne
09.09.2023, 20:00, Where to go with Kurt? Film about 3 homeless people, Ebertplatz
01 – 10.11.2023 Prison days: homelessness/jail/homelessness

For a city without homelessness
For a city without evictions
For a city without drug deaths
For a city without violence against women and children
For a city without deportations
For a city without poverty
August 12, 2023
Klaus Jünschke and Rainer Kippe

Call for donations
To further improve our public relations we need money:
Donation account MachMit! e.V. IBAN: DE53370501981011342704
Intended purpose: Aktionsbündnis

Translated with DeepL

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